BadgevilleWhat is Badgeville, and how did you and your team get started in this field?

Badgeville is the leading gamification and behavior management platform. My co-founder and I started Badgeville for two reasons — first, we saw the success of the social gaming industry and how this had little to do with actual games and a lot more to do with companies learning how to understand user behavior and create experiences to reward specific actions. We thought this could be applied to any business objective.

Secondly, we looked at the analytics industry, which was stuck in a place measuring generic traffic and repeat visits but didn't look at specific user behavior and trends regarding this behavior. Again, the social gaming industry was advancing leaps and bounds in analytics programs in ways that traditional businesses could also employ. As gamification and behavior management has grown as an industry, we have seen more and more businesses using these techniques for not only customer-facing experiences, but also for employee performance and engagement programs.

How should the marketing/advertising industry utilize Badgeville to create better end-results for its clients’ content and marketing strategies?

Marketers and advertisers know that a brand or product marketing strategy must include a robust digital program. The best way to do this is to tie together all of your digital experiences and make these about the user.

Regardless of how creative your advertising or marketing program is, if there is an online or mobile element, there are specific actions you want your audience/users to take within these experiences. Gamification can tie together all of the brand's digital experiences and reward this behavior. Reputation mechanics are extremely important for companies with strong brand identities and loyal followings or those who want to become those brands. Companies from Samsung to Universal Music to sneakpeeq are using game and reputation mechanics to drive user loyalty and behavior.

What trends and changes in the market led you to realize that Badgeville would fill a void?

In the marketing and advertising industry specifically, we see that agencies and companies are still focused on campaign-based models for promoting products and companies, but there is rarely a unifying line running through all these experiences. This can be jarring to the customer. What gamification does is provide an ongoing reputation program for your customers and fans, which then can tie together your ongoing campaigns and experiences. You can also use the behavior analytics from these programs to gain a better understanding of your audience, find your top fans and also measure the increase in engagement and conversions from the important remainder of your audience.

What is gamification? How does Badgeville use gamification to increase user engagement and help business leaders measure and influence their customers’ behavior?

Gamification is a fast-growing industry that applies techniques from traditional and social games to non-game business objectives. For example, a marketer can reward customer behavior beyond transactions and in between purchases, such as rewards for sharing links, reviewing products and engaging with brand experiences on the web and mobile applications. We think of gamification as an important piece of a larger industry — behavior management — which takes different engagement mechanics to drive user behavior. This includes game mechanics, reputation mechanics and social mechanics, which ultimately help businesses and brands build a modern, interactive user experience.

Badgeville is a true behavior platform — this means that it is easy for our customers to tie together their entire user experiences, whether on the web, mobile or within online applications such as communities and other portals.

How can gamification contribute to customer loyalty?

Modern customer loyalty is as much about the customer as it is about the brand. Just like frequent-flyer programs revolutionized loyalty when computers were able to store data about repeat purchases, today we can store masses of data on user behavior across all of your digital experiences. This provides many new "behaviors" to reward.

Sneakpeeq, a fast-growing social shopping startup, has increased conversions 18 percent since adding Badgeville's gamification platform. Bell Media increased registered users 20 percent and saw one in every three users return weekly after adding a social rewards program. Gamification works — we see the results time and time again as our customers get 20 percent to more than 200 percent increases in everything from conversions to social shares, product reviews and engagement metrics relevant to specific user experiences. Customers continue to earn reputation by engaging with your company's experiences, which is a program that doesn't die at the end of a campaign but can be built with different levels for more engaged customers as they continue to become more and more loyal and engaged with your client's brand.

Why might a brand choose to create their own on-site social community rather than working with existing social networks to interact with customers?

Social networks should not be ignored as a place to reach an audience, but they are really just modern advertising networks for brands. The social networks pay very close attention through fancy algorithms around how users are interacting with your ads and organic social content and using this to offer your competitors advertising opportunities to target those same customers.

Additionally, it's becoming more and more difficult to reach your audience on social networks as they become cluttered with content. For the user, this can be frustrating as well. People are realizing they have less in common with their friends than they originally thought, and social networks are becoming the place to share engagement and baby pictures. People are looking to engage with peers who share similar interests. Brands have a unique opportunity to create communities around interests and create an extremely engaged audience, with the added benefit that you don't need to pay for CPC or CPM advertising to reach your audience. There is still a challenge of keeping users engaged with that community, and this is a challenge that gamification and reputation programs solve.

How do you see gamification and the user experience evolving in the next three to five years?

Gamification as a term may disappear, but these programs will become ubiquitous with every online experience. We will earn points and status for interacting with our favorite brands. Across enterprises, we will be rewarded for engaging during the workday with our employer's intranets, internal communities and mobile experiences. We see this at Badgeville. As a company that is just two years old with 200 global customers, we have conversations with thousands of companies, agencies and development partners that are all looking to gamify everything from corporate training experiences to customer loyalty. M2 Research says that gamification will be a $2.8 billion industry by 2016 for this very reason.

Kris DugganKris Duggan, CEO and co-founder of Badgeville, is a serial entrepreneur with a passion for building innovative, fast-growing SaaS companies with thousands of delighted customers. He is dedicated to helping brands on the web increase user engagement by leveraging proven techniques in social gaming and loyalty. A sought-after speaker on gamification, analytics and user engagement, Kris is a thought leader in incorporating game mechanics and social loyalty programs into web and mobile experiences. Prior to founding Badgeville, Duggan worked in leadership roles at a variety of successful companies, including WebEx, and across a wide variety of verticals.

You can learn more about Badgeville at www.Badgeville.com or connect on Twitter @Badgeville.

Originally published Nov 1, 2012 1:00:28 AM, updated December 05 2014